Policies not enough to address Climate Change, experts say

As countries continue to seek ways to meet the ambitions laid out in the Paris Agreement, environmental experts have agreed that designing policies are not enough to sufficiently and urgently address climate change and the impacts.

This was the outcome of a virtual meeting organised by the Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD) of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State.

The meeting was themed: “Legal Perspectives Raising Ambition and Implementing Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution,” with resource persons including Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, the Director, Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Nigeria; Mr Huzi Mshella, representing NDC Partnership Nigeria; Dr Tomilola Akanle, a researcher and environmentalist; and Prof. Chris Hilson, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Reading, United Kingdom.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, the Director, Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Nigeria, highlighted some progress that Nigeria has made in tandem with the Paris Agreement.

Referring to the Paris Agreement which, in 2016, was signed by no fewer than 190 countries – including Nigeria, to reduce national emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change and limit global warming to preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius; Prof. Chris Hilson, a Professor of Environmental Law, University of Reading, United Kingdom, cited how the UK’s Climate Change policy is all-encompassing and can serve as a blueprint for other countries to learn from. According to him, “without a law on Climate Change in Nigeria, there would be no way to hold the government accountable as only policies don’t send a strong message”. Hilson called for more work from the government in areas like solar power, poverty eradication and reforestation, as these have direct impacts on achieving the Climate Change goal. He also urged countries to have clear patterns to achieving the NDC declarations under The Paris Agreement.

Another panellist in the meeting, Dr. Tomilola Akanle, stressed the necessity of having a Climate Change law in Nigeria. According to her, “There is a need for a legally binding framework for climate change. A lack of this has greatly hindered Nigeria’s progress with Climate Change development.” Dr. Akanle also said that “Nigeria doesn’t currently have any law that deals directly with Climate Change. Though there are a couple of policies that cover parts of climate change effects, like the National Climate Policy Response Strategy of 2012 and the National Energy Policy, they are however not legally binding and the government cannot be held responsible or accountable.”

Legal Advisor to the African Group of Negotiators, Ms. Selam Kidane Abebe, suggested some legal methods to helping countries use legal approach to meet climate ambitions. On his part, Mr Huzi Mshella who represented Nigeria’s NDC Partnership posited that no individual effort is too small in contributing towards the ultimate goal of reducing carbon emissions.

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